I was online shopping on the site of a major retailer last week looking for a certain pair of shoes. A couple days later, the company’s customer
service wrote to apologize, explaining the item I wanted was no longer in stock because it was last year’s model. I was miffed by what I saw as a careless clerical error by the company and ended up driving to a brick and mortar store to buy a different model.
No doubt, online shoppers unwittingly encounter errors in product information every day. Large online stores carry hundreds, even thousands of products, many of which become obsolete less than a year after being posted. Smaller online sites with less back-end support are rife with inaccurate product descriptions, specifications and often omit important information about the product altogether. As a consumer, it’s easy to blame the company selling the products for inaccurate product information, but many large online retailers actually have few formal processes or staff in place to ensure each item has accurate and comprehensive specifications.
To ensure complete and accurate information on their customers’ sites, manufacturers and importers need to assign responsibility to one of their own staff or intern who will regularly undertake the often painstaking work of reviewing product descriptions, specifications, images, drawings, features, benefits and any certifications for every product resold on the web. The marketing term for this activity is “Web Scrubbing”.
How to make sure your product information is squeaky clean
By developing a spreadsheet that lists product SKU’s on the Y-axis (1 on each row) and online retail placement along the X-axis (columns to the right), you can methodically review your products for sale on the Internet to be sure your end-customers are receiving the most current and accurate product information.
Web scrubbing can be helpful to see the range of retail pricing for a manufacturer’s different products as well. It can help to ensure they are adhering to the manufacturer’s pricing policies.
Set a time once a quarter to add new and delete discontinued products and resellers from your spreadsheet, then get to work checking your online offerings. By periodically monitoring your own product information, you help your customers retain more business and in doing so, build goodwill with them and help minimize lost sales.